Millicent racked up another victory in its Western Border football title defence after edging out East Gambier in the 15th round of the 2022 premiership season on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were hungry to put on a show for the legends from the club’s most successful era who returned to McDonald Park for a long-awaited premiership reunion.
But the modern day premiers were equally as committed to showing why they currently hold the cup and held off a spirited East outfit.
Although the Saints won 90-66, victorious coach Clint Gallio said it was a scrap after the hosts did not allow his men to play optimal football.
“It was a good battle of a game, so pleasing we could fight it out until the end and hold on,” he said.
“We played some patchy footy, but looked good when in possession and controlled the tempo.
“East’s pressure and tackling was really good, especially tight in the contest.
“We had a lot of ‘nearly moments’ and just could not quite connect some passages.
“But it is always nice winning games coming into finals.”
The Saints knew they were in for a game early as Bulldogs’ co-coach Matt Scanlon got his side under way once again.
But with Sam Willis, Kade Varcoe and Josh Werchon combining well, the visitors were able to provide enough opportunities for their numerous scoring options to more than double East’s score by quarter time following an entertaining passage of play.
However, the second term was a more even affair as some of the young Bulldogs proved their worth.
During a season where East’s senior depth has been limited at times, the brains trust would have been pleased to see the likes of Shaun Lock, Jack Lawrence and Sam Lock perform against a quality outfit.
Riley Flamank was also not afraid to zero-in on the big sticks and a lucky bounce from a hopeful Patrick Hatch snap brought the hosts right into the game immediately after the main break where just 10 points split the sides.
Despite the home crowd starting to get hopeful, Millicent found its best to keep the Bulldogs at arm’s length.
The Saints’ response to East’s run was a lovely hand-balling play between Gallio, Tom Hutchesson and Noah Lang.
No matter how many times the Bulldogs tried to make the biggest upset of the season happen, Millicent found an answer to keep the advantage around four goals with Dylan Bromley and Sam Willis both striking regularly.
Gallio said some players put in some big efforts in each zone of the ground to get his men over the line following a goal-for-goal final quarter.
“Kalan Shanks had a super game down back and spoiled a lot of long balls coming in,” he said.
“Hamish Nitschke worked really hard and won plenty of possession.
“Josh Werchon, Sam Willis and Kade Varcoe also gave it their all for the full length of the game playing their roles brilliantly.”